We are big believers in creativity here at Sea Change. But not creativity for its own sake. That’s just art. Creativity needs to live within the discipline of strategy — creativity with purpose.

I have always hated the “think outside the box” cliche, not because it’s a cliche, but because it inspires stupid creativity, not useful creativity. Mars recently blogged about a Harvard Business Review article outlining a process for fostering strategic creativity — in other words, not thinking outside the box, but thinking inside the RIGHT box.

This week’s UIE interview with the author of a new book called “The Myths of Innovation” sounds a similar theme:

I think innovation is overrated. Customers don’t care about how innovative you are. They just want to be happy and satisfied. And that’s about good design. . . . The best advice I can give is to focus on people and their problems. Few great innovators worried about anything else. The fact that they found a new idea had more to do with their passion for solving someone’s problem than anything else.

Creativity matters — we think it matters a great deal. But not without the discipline of strategy, which means listening and responding to real people with real needs.